Any expert will tell you that there is no one way to use social media effectively between industries; while there are some universal principles in play, the topic being presented and the best way to discuss that topic always changes.
People working in the health and healthcare field, especially when dealing with the Health 2.0 movement, can now reference the CDC’s own Guide for Writing for Social Media, in which it discusses what social media is, how to create a social media strategy with a health emphasis, and more; all the while, this well-written document emphasizes the following basic but important tips for social media use in the health and healthcare field:
- The importance of plain language. While one of the most important goals of any health-focused group is to promote health literacy – i.e. making information accessible and understandable to the general public – often, people in health communication create health literacy problems for audiences when their present information that makes it difficult for them to understand what they should know and do. To avoid this, health communicators should not use jargon (words and phrases that are not commonly understood by most people) or write dense, long content in a passive voice; instead, engage the reader with a short bit of information written in both an active voice and a language the reader understands.
- Use the Tools of Social Marketing in Your Communications. Use action words (verbs) when writing; this both helps create an active voice and plays into the use of marketing principles that influence human behavior to improve health or benefit society. Another tool is to incorporate social media marketing and planning into your communications; social media marketing planning requires understanding and incorporating the “The Four Ps of Marketing” (Product, Price, Place, and Promotion) into program planning. A few ways to do this are to always answer the audience’s question, “What’s in it for me?” in any communications; to encourage your readers to take a particular action or to learn morel or tie messages to specific products or services when possible (such as “Find out where to get tested” or “Know your status”)
- Write relevant content. People don’t want old, useless information. Use your social media marketing strategies to create content that readers care about. Remember, readers want new, up-to-date, useful, and interesting content; what sorts of information satisfies these requirements depends on your audience, which a good marketing plan has already established, making your work easier.
These three basic tips are just a few of the useful ideas found in the CDC’s Guide for Writing for Social Media; the entire document is also available for download, and includes wonderful examples to help illustrate the tips in this document. It also includes tips for planning campaigns, establishing a solid social media network, and writing content specific to each social media platform.